Customer Service Tip of the Week

Hear Them, and Tell Them What You Heard - 6/18/19


CSS has conducted close to 1000 research projects over the years, many of which were web-based surveys. And oftentimes, in addition to or instead of completing the online survey, respondents e-mail us directly with questions or comments – and we respond personally to every message on behalf of our Read more

It’s Decision Time. What are you going to do? - 6/11/19


Serving others is tough. Whether it’s dealing with an irate customer, having to field the same question from the 100th different customer this month, or keeping 10 plates spinning while still smiling in front of the client, it’s hard. You want to do a great job, and you’re constantly put Read more

You Do Know Jack - 6/4/19


Have you ever had a co-worker who causes more problems than they solve? Simple things they do are often, from a procedure standpoint, correct. But the way they handle situations makes them come off as indifferent. Let’s call this co-worker “Jack.” Even though certain actions by Jack may seem innocent Read more

How to Give the Right Kind of “No” - 5/28/19


In a perfect world, you never need to say “No” to the customer. But as we all know, this is not a perfect world. There are a lot of issues in the world, and there are a lot of issues in customer service. Our companies are not perfect, our Read more

Make it Crystal Clear - 5/21/19


Sometimes we communicate so well, and sometimes we don’t communicate as well as we think we do. When you’re trying to set or manage another person’s expectations, what you say may be very clear to you, but the reality is it may not be clear to the other person. Read more

Harvey Wrote the Book on Focus...and Golf - 5/14/19


In Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, the famous golf instructor provides many key tips about golf that just as well could apply to life in general. One such tip is the following: Once you address the golf ball, hitting it has got to be the most important thing in Read more

Stop Rolling Your Eyes - 5/7/19


Most of our customer service tips offer advice and guidance. But advice and guidance is useless if the individual receiving it is not willing to listen, learn the theory behind it, and try to apply what they’ve heard or learned. I’ve personally facilitated hundreds of training sessions with clients over Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Employee’s Dilemma - 4/30/19


Last week we looked at the dilemma that many companies face – When there is an issue that is going to happen, should they tell the customer? This week, let’s address that same question from the employee’s perspective. I personally experience employees struggling with this question when I’m in Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Company’s Dilemma - 4/23/19


I have a lot of clients that struggle with this question, both at a company/strategic level as well as an individual representative level. When there is an issue that is going to happen, should you tell the customer? This week we’re going to address the question at the Read more

Customer for Life – The Final Step - 4/16/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Third Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Address what will keep them. Now, we’re sharing the Fourth and Final Step. To have a Customer for Life, you have to grow your relationship with them. While the 3rd step is the Read more

A Representative Success! – 12/11/18

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I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing.

She knows her customers so well that when she sees their phone number pop up as they call her, she immediately knows who it is that’s calling. She immediately recalls: Jane is a cat person; Bob’s been having a hard time lately. She then starts the conversations by asking about their kids or their family or their work or their pets.

She thinks of these nuggets and utilizes them for those she cares about – her customers.

There are thousands of individual products and hundreds of pieces of equipment and parts that her company sells and services. But she is exceptionally knowledgeable about the details such that she not only knows what the product is, but she also knows which clients might be interested in which products based on which promotions.

She is fortunate to be in a company where the culture is more about relationship-building and development than it is about quick handle times on the call. That positive cultural focus enables her to be patient with the customers in-the-moment as well as to think long-term about how she handles the call today and the impact that will have on her relationship and sales moving into the future.

She communicates frequently and freely with her regional sales managers, and they have a clear understanding of when and why one would communicate with a particular client versus the other.

The skills and attributes of this individual are the skills and attributes of somebody who truly cares about her customers and cares about her job as well. These are attributes that focus on long-term thinking, and the result is long-term success.

Learn from this representative’s best practices!

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Of Carly Simon and Corey Feldman – 12/4/18

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Anticipation. It’s a fine song by Carly Simon. She talks about how it (anticipation) is making her late, and it is keeping her waiting. The song is also the theme for the cheesy Corey Feldman 1970s Heinz Ketchup commercial. But that definition of “Anticipation” talks about the feeling you have while you’re waiting for something to happen.

In customer service, we often talk about the other definition of anticipation. This definition relates to trying to identify a potential customer need before it’s ever voiced to you. You anticipate that they have an issue. You anticipate that they’re about to run into an obstacle. You anticipate that they have a particular need that they want to share. In this sense, anticipate suggests you are almost predicting what is going to happen, and the benefit of the anticipation is you can be proactive.

So how do you anticipate? Since the action isn’t yet occurring, you’re looking for cues. You’re looking for that look of frustration or hostility or confusion on the part of the customer. You’re listening to the hesitancy in their voice, or you’re noticing the change in their mannerisms. You’re thinking about customers who’ve been in a similar situation who started to go down a direction that this customer may go as well. You’re relying on your history and knowledge to serve as a predictor of the future in the moment with this customer. And you’re looking at the cues that they provide or their emotions or the direction that they’re starting to head.

To be great at customer service, it’s not always about reaction. Oftentimes, it’s about proactively identifying what steps you can take even before the customer realizes their needs and voices them to you. It’s about you reading the situation and getting ahead of the curve.

To be great at customer service, be a great reader of that customer in front of you or on the phone with you. Think about them in light of all the different customer interactions you had in the past, and anticipate their needs.

Anticipate in order to offer exceptional service.

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Use Customer Comments to Continuously Improve – 11/27/18

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It’s that time of year when all good Americans due their duty – to purchase holiday gifts online. Okay, maybe it’s not as much a duty as it is a joy or chore, depending on your point-of-view.

Before I purchase anything online, I seek out reviews. This may involve a review from some reputable online publication. More often, I seek out reviews from fellow customers, and I put a TON of weight into their opinions. Even though the seller may offer specs on the product and glowing descriptions, the words of customers who purchased the item mean more.

They tend to tell you about the ordering and shipping experiences. They tell you how the assembly went, what they like and dislike, what works and what doesn’t, and what type of support they receive if there’s a question/issue/return involved. It helps me to make an informed decision.

Now, what it should also do is to help the seller improve the product or the buying process or the support process.

Think about seeing the buying experience, the “setup-for-use” experience, the product benefits/drawbacks, and the support experience all through the customer’s eyes! It’s like mystery shopping without having to mystery shop. It’s real-time information from real people about real experiences.

If you want to know how to improve yourself, your service, your organization, or your product, look for sources of customer input that already exist (and create those that don’t). Review the input; determine the common threads; find opportunities to recognize others, and find opportunities to get better.

Use customer comments to continuously improve.

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